A recent story on Al Jazeera’s “America
Tonight” shed light on underage drinking and partying at college campuses,
pointing out one university in particular— the University of Kansas.
Al Jazeera sent correspondent Casey Kauffman to KU to see what the party and hookup culture was like on campus. Kauffman found the KU students were readily willing to talk about the party life at their university. Students were quoted in the article with comments such as, “A couple that blacks out together, stays together.” The article also indicated that many students have a laid back attitude towards hooking up while at parties.
These comments seemed to put KU officials in the hot seat. Tammara Durham, vice provost for student affairs at KU, said in an interview for the University Daily Kansan that the actions of these students only represent a small minority of KU students.
Drinking is a large part of many college campuses across the nation, but what’s the party scene like at K-State? Hillary L’Ecuyer, senior in interior design, said that drinking has become an expectation in college.
“I think that underage drinking has become part of our culture in the United States, due to the fact that we always want what we can’t have,” L’Ecuyer said.
L’Ecuyer suggested that many European countries with lower drinking ages do not have the problem the U.S. does simply because kids don’t feel the need to break the rules.
“If you look at it morally, some would say yes, it’s wrong because it’s illegal in the eyes of the justice system,” L’Ecuyer said. “But socially, it’s what we’ve been conditioned to expect when in college.”
Laura Brannon, professor of psychology at K-State, agreed with what L’Ecuyer had to say.
“Research shows that drinking decreases when students reach the legal drinking age,” Brannon said. “Underage drinkers often drink a lot in order to show they are ‘grown up’ and to assert their freedom to do what they want. They don’t want people telling them what to do.”
Shane Singleton, senior in electrical engineering, said he didn’t get much pressure to drink, but his friends played a role in his choices.
“Personally, I felt most pressured to drink when I just wanted to be with my friends. That was my choice, though,” Singleton said. “I didn’t get much pressure to drink [externally]. On the other hand, I have several friends who live for drinking on the weekends because ‘it’s what you do.’”
While underage drinking is one thing, hooking up with a stranger at a party is another ballgame entirely. Singleton pointed out many downsides of possible drunken hookups such as ending up alone with a stranger, STDs and possible emotional trauma.
“I don’t believe underage drinking is the wisest decision one can make,” Singleton said.
Singleton also noted that guys tend to be more sexually aggressive by nature, but when alcohol is involved, “every kiss does not begin with Kay, but rather with Bud Light.”
Brannon pointed out some of the psychological tolls alcohol takes on a person that might make one think a one-time drunken hookup is okay. She said that alcohol suppresses activity in the part of the brain that makes people inhibited and not impulsive. People will do things under the influence that they would never do sober.
Brannon said that there’s also research that shows that people use alcohol as an excuse to do things they never would do sober. She said people sometimes use excess alcohol intake as an excuse for abnormal behavior, however, this does not mean it is common
“It should be made clear that it’s not up to other people to decide what the drinker’s motivation is, and no one should take advantage of a person who has been drinking,” Brannon said.
L’Ecuyer agreed with Brannon. She said that people should make their own decisions, sober or not.
“Ultimately, sex is an act that should be undertaken with mutual consent; if both parties aren’t able to make that consenting decision for themselves, one or both should be responsible enough to just not do it,” L’Ecuyer said.
According to Singleton, no matter what a person’s views are on drinking, it’s important to know your limits.
“Have fun, but don’t be an idiot,” Singleton said.